Trump-appointed judge delays decision on CNN’s Jim Acosta because he wants to ‘sleep on it’ first
Judge Timothy J. Kelly held a hearing deciding the White House’s banning of CNN chief correspondent Jim Acosta Wednesday afternoon. However, the judge said he won’t rule on the decision until Thursday afternoon.
According to tweets from reporters at the courthouse, the judge began by asking whether Acosta’s ban was about content discrimination and CNN’s counsel Ted Boutrous claimed yes.
“Boutrous says the White House has made it very clear it doesn’t like the content of Acosta’s and the network’s reporting,” Bloomberg wrote, citing Trump’s accusations of the media being the “enemy of the people” and “fake news.”
Judge Kelly “expressed skepticism that this proves the Acosta ban is ‘content-based discrimination,'” CNN reported Wednesday.
The CNN lawyer also noted that the White House began with allegations Acosta assaulted a White House intern, and when videos revealed the contrary, the White House promoted a doctored video to back up their claim and was ridiculed and shamed as a result.
In most White House press shops, they use different rules and processes to hold orderly press conferences. Reporters are known for shouting questions loudly and asking multiple followup questions.
The Trump White House isn’t exactly known for its organization or process. Judge Kelly asked Boutrous why the process of revoking Acosta’s credentials wasn’t sufficient. According to live-tweets from Washington Post reporter Erik Wemple, Boutrous explained that there was no process, rather it was a unilateral decision.
Government lawyers argued an orderly press conference was impossible given Acosta’s actions.
USG lawyer says WH argument doesn’t depend on the “places his hands on an intern” point initially put forth by @PressSec. And he relies on argument that @Acosta conduct wa such that WH couldn’t run an orderly press briefing# p #9_33 # ad skipped = true #
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) November 14, 2018# p #10_33 # ad skipped = true #
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders pivoted from the original excuse, saying that Acosta was barred because of “rudeness.” However, during the hearing, even Boutrous acknowledged “rudeness is not a standard” anywhere in American laws. That said, the president has relished in his battle with the press, garnering more and more coverage.
“Knowing President Trump, he’ll probably call on Jim Acosta the first day he gets his press pass back,” Wemple quoted Boutrous.
Boutrous says that since WH has opened itself to media with credentialing process, the act or revoking a particular reporter’s access triggers First Amendment protections# p #14_33 # ad skipped = true #
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) November 14, 2018# p #15_33 # ad skipped = true #
Wemple also commented he was floored that the American taxpayer is paying for four government lawyers to defend the White House in flattening the First Amendment.
Government lawyer James Burnham argued that the president has a right to bar any and all reporters that he wants. He cited a case where the governor of Maryland shut out Baltimore Sun reporters, but it didn’t exactly compare to a network that has 50 reporters who still have hard passes to the White House.
“The president is at the apex of authority to set rules, both in the Oval Office and in press conferences, and if he wants to exclude all reporters from the White House grounds, ‘he clearly has the discretion to do that,'” Bloomberg reported the Department of Justice lawyer said.
Burnham: “A single journalist’s attempt to monopolize a press conference is not a viewpoint.”# p #20_33 # ad skipped = true #
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) November 14, 2018# p #21_33 # ad skipped = true #
Also: “Grandstanding…is not a viewpoint.”—-USG lawyer Burnham# p #23_33 # ad skipped = true #
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) November 14, 2018# p #24_33 # ad skipped = true #
“So, [the] Government case really boils down to an argument that Acosta is rude and disruptive and thus can have his pass revoked — by a thoroughly rude and disruptive man,” Wemple said.
Burnham tried to claim that there was zero impact or damage on CNN or Acosta himself for having credentials rescinded. He cited the 50 other reporters with passes, saying Acosta isn’t the only one CNN has. Burnham even alluded to the possibility that Acosta could simply do his job watching the briefings on YouTube.
And Burnham says harm to @Acosta is “narrow” bc Trump doesn’t ever have to call on him at press events or talk to him even if he had a hard pass for access to the grounds. Comment: Burnham doesn’t get journalism# p #28_33 # ad skipped = true #
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) November 14, 2018# p #29_33 # ad skipped = true #
When Boutrous replied, he nailed the government’s argument, saying journalism isn’t about watching television.
Judge Kelly noted “there is some evidence that Acosta’s conduct — not his content — led the White House to suspend his press pass,” CNN said.
The judge ultimately decided to sleep on it and make the ruling on Thursday at 3 p.m. EST.